Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vinson Update

I was lucky enough to briefly hear how Vinson's doing in the kennel. Sounds like he's adjusting well to his surroundings and his new kennel mates. Today is a big day for him - and probably one he'd choose to skip: neutering.

We'll be thinking about our little yellow, groggy friend. He's in great hands!

Watson Gladly takes the Top Dog Spot

Watson with his new "blue baby"
Since Watson arrived in our home about half way through raising Vinson, despite being an imposing ninety-pound shepherd, he assumed the second dog spot in our pack. Sarah and I were curious to see what changes we'd see in him after Vinson's departure.

There are moments when Watson is obviously missing Vinson - certain times during the day when they always played. In Vinson's absence Watson has now become top dog and it seems that I've become the surrogate playmate, tennis balls repeatedly dropped at my feet in the living room.

Overall though, Watson is loving his new, quiet realm. He'll roll onto his side, stretch casually and just enjoy relaxing - a move that would've drawn immediate and relentless play from Vinson just a few days ago.

Perhaps Watson's favorite change is the return of soft dog toys! Vinson could not be trusted around destroyable toys, or frankly anything soft including clothing and paper. When we adopted Watson his favorite toy was his "blue baby" and we had to hide him away out of Vinson's reach. Last night Sarah brought home a new blue baby and Watson was overjoyed, as shown in the photo.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Adusting to a Quiet Home

Sarah and I had a nice long weekend to begin adjusting to a household without Vinson. Watson, our shepherd, took to the change very quickly, enjoying the chance to lay around with his toys without being tackled, chewed on our yelped at. For us humans the transition is a bit slower but going fine.

One of the most noticeable changes is the incredible silence in our home, cars and my office. Even by puppy standards, Vinson was on the high end of boisterous behavior, so his absence is palpable.

What are we missing most? Vinson's groggy morning kisses. The way one side of his lip would get stuck on his tooth, making him appear to be making a funny face. Playing ball in the big field at work.

It was difficult to travel to The Seeing Eye this morning without my little yellow friend. Thankfully Watson still makes the trip with me, but walking into the office without the wild yellow pup seemed very odd - like I'd forgotten something at home.

Yes, there are lots of reminders of Vinson everywhere we go: toys scattered at home, work and in our cars; water dishes at work; bags of puppy food; bitter apple spray; and of course, photos and videos. They're all great reminders of the incredible year we shared with him.

There are some positive changes for us too. Trash cans are back on the floor where they belong. Tissue boxes have been returned to reachable places. Our household dog poop and hair shedding output has been cut in half. Socks and shoes can once again sit out of the closet. There are no more trips outside during work - always the comedian, Vinson had a way of waiting to park until the weather let loose a downpour.

We do wonder how Vinson's doing in the kennel - if he's adjusting to his new bunk mates and routines. But overall the transition has been slightly easier than we thought it might be. It is manageable in that we always knew this time would come - he was a Seeing Eye puppy from the day we met and we knew he'd end up back here for phase two of his journey.

Sarah and I are super proud of what we've done together in raising Vinson. We worked very hard to get him through some unexpected moments, from breaking his leg to eating underwear. Now it's all up to him and the trainers. We're hoping for the best and will keep sharing our experience as the days move on and as we hear any progress updates from The Seeing Eye.

In the meantime, thanks so much for the wonderful comments you've been sharing through this blog and on The Seeing Eye's Facebook page. It's been over a year of shooting and posting photos and writing about our experiences on the blog and it's really fun to hear from all of you who've been on the other side of the screen!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

and then he was gone...

Vinson has officially gone back for processing. Sarah and I had lots of support from Jill and Seeing Eye staff and made it through fine, although we shared some happy tears with many staff who've come to love him as we do.

Vinson proudly wore his official Seeing Eye Dog collar as he headed across the campus with Jill. We were given a certificate marking our achievement of raising Vinson and a letter detailing the communications we'll receive from The Seeing Eye regarding his progress.

Ryan, Sarah and Vinson, posing for one last "family photo"
Vinson happily showing off his official Seeing Eye collar

A closeup of the collar - the plate is engraved with "The Seeing Eye" on one side and has Vinson's name on the other

Our final sight of Vinson heading to the kennels with Jill, taken through my office window screen

Vinson by the Numbers

Day 1 at home
  • 10,000 Vinson business cards handed out
  • 3,000 “sit” commands
  • 1,100 poops picked up
  • 388 days of puppy love
  • 350 blog posts
  • 270 trips to The Seeing Eye
  • 200 pounds of dog food
  • 30 close human friends at The Seeing Eye
  • 24 car interior cleanings
  • 18 puppy club meetings
  • 15 Nylabones well-used
  • 10 trips to the vet
  • 6 leg splints
  • 4 different crates
  • 3 pairs of footwear “altered”
  • 3 cats annoyed
  • 2 dog beds shredded
  • 2 leashes destroyed
  • 2 clothing items eaten
  • 1 Christmas tree knocked over 
  • 1 hurricane lived through
  • 1 Seeing Eye holiday card feature
  • 1 incredibly special goal
Would we do it all again? You bet!

The Big Day!

Today is the big day we've been working toward since that special day - April 18, 2011 - when tiny, 7-pound Vinson entered our lives.

At noon today, Vinson's area coordinator, Jill, will meet Sarah and I in my office at The Seeing Eye to officially bring Vinson to the kennel. There, his processing will begin - health screening, neutering and evaluation, after which he'll be ready to be matched with a trainer.

We'll be posting any information we receive about Vinson's progress along the way. We're keeping our fingers crossed that he'll be able to focus on his job and be a great success, but no matter how everything turns out we're super proud of him!

Here's a photo of Vinson playing with two Great Danes in the big field this morning!

Vinson and the Danes

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ball with Garcia

Vinson had a chance to play ball with Garcia one more time today at lunch. As always, the two of them had a blast together!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Field of Dreams

Throughout Vinson's time as a puppy he's had the great opportunity to run and play in a very large, safe field at The Seeing Eye. As his call-back date comes very close (this Thursday, May 10!) I've been giving the little guy some extra play time (okay, I've been giving myself a little extra play time with Vinson!).

This morning we had a great time playing ball and Vinson plopped down to rest among a sea of flowering dandelions, making for a nice photo...

Vinson, smiling as usual!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Final Puppy Club Meeting

Vinson attended his final puppy club meeting last night and had a blast as usual. He did great at most of the routines, while some younger pups reminded Sarah and I just how far he's come. The club members wished him well in the next part of his adventure.

Super excited to greet the pups

Proudly demonstrating the puppy circle